Written by Arjit
Ok Fellow Milanisti ! Let’s Discuss Milan ! Let’s Talk Some Red & Black !
MILAN — RANGNICK STORY
It is really true what they say. Never a dull moment in the life of a Milan fan. The Milan fanbase around the world just witnessed the whole Milan – Rangnick drama which was truly epic with lots of twists and turns along the way. The ending of the whole story was however quite abrupt and shocking much to the surprise of club supporters and even media circles. Just when Milan were embroiled in an extremely tight race to conquer a 6th place finish in Serie A which would mean automatic qualification for Europa League, news started filtering out from various media channels that famous German tactician and Red Bull football empire guru Ralf Rangnick would not be arriving at the club in the capacity of sporting director and team manager as had been expected earlier. The news was sudden causing panic amongst the Rossoneri faithful.
STATE OF CONFUSION
The news first broke through Kicker in Germany and eventually made its way to the Italian media. Amidst all the chaos, Milan were battling Sassuolo in a tightly contested matchup which had barely reached its half time mark. The news came to the disappointment of some fans whereas others were relieved now that the long running saga was finally behind them. There were mixed feelings amongst supporters as there were many who were genuinely excited about the possible arrival of ‘The Professor’ whilst there were others who did not approve of the idea of another revolution at the club in a series of many since Max Allegri left the club in 2014 following a disastrous stretch of results.
PIOLI SIGNS EXTENSION
The reports were proven right when the club confirmed current head coach Stefano Pioli had signed an extension until 2022 on the back of an excellent run of results where the team had gone unbeaten since play resumed. This run had seen the team secure impressive victories over Juventus, Roma and Lazio. This decision to stick with Pioli and drop the pursuit of Rangnick came to the surprise of both fans and media alike. There were conflicting reports as to what was the reason behind such a U-turn. So why did it end all of a sudden and what made the management reconsider their decision? Let’s all take a deep breath and try uncover the potential reasons behind retaining Pioli and ditching the long awaited Rangnick revolution at the very last second.
IMPRESSIVe RECENT Form
The team finished the season undefeated in 13 matches with 9 victories and 4 draws. This run included wins against Roma, Lazio and Juventus. The team achieved these results playing exceptional football that has been missing for many years now. This finally forced the management’s hand in keeping Pioli.
Unprecedented Role In Italian Football
It is important to note that we are talking about a role here in the mold of a Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. This essentially translates to one single influential figure possessing total control over all sporting aspects at the club. This would mean Rangnick assuming the role of a ‘Supremo’ as media in Italy like to call it. The media outlets in Italy and Germany including Sky Italia and Kicker respectively were all in agreement that the German would be arriving on a certain condition that he is granted total control over the sporting side of things at the club. He would take up the dual role of manager and sporting director. This is something unprecedented in Italian football. The archetypal structure at Italian football clubs has often seen the likes of sporting director, technical director, and head coach share responsibilities that come with their respective roles. This model has worked well in the past and therefore hiring Rangnick in such a revolutionary role would likely disrupt the balance of power and accountability. The world of football has undergone globalization where football clubs basically operate as business corporations. This requires them to have certain structure and chain of command. Individuals are paid to do a certain job and the duality of roles no longer exists. This is modern football. Even the English have followed suit after the departures of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger from Man Utd and Arsenal respectively. There are many examples across Europe that prove the success of this model in Lille, Sevilla, Monaco and Atalanta. The Milan management would be taking a big gamble had they gone through with the appointment of Rangnick. The performances and results of the team had drastically improved recently which in turn made the management rethink. The risk involved was quite high and management could not afford another costly mistake. A decision was reached unanimously that the gamble wasn’t worth it and the club would move forward with Pioli.
Rangnick’S mASSIVE DEMANDS
Ralf Rangnick was allegedly offered the role of sporting director with Pioli working under him and carrying out his ideas and vision for the club on the field. The German refused such offer insisting on taking up the dual role. This demand was seen as excessive and the fact that he was not willing to compromise at all irked the management. Leaving this aside, there were reports suggesting that Rangnick demanded that he receive total control over the club’s medical and physiotherapy sectors. The Leipzig boss had also made a specific request that a budget of 100 million euros is made available to him for the upcoming transfer window. He had reportedly made a list of players who needed to be brought in at the club to implement his vision. These requests were deemed too much by the management considering the post pandemic climate where keeping finances in check has become ever so important. All these demands forced the management to reflect before they finally decided to pull the plug on the whole thing and entrust Stefano Pioli with the project moving forward.
Continuity Over Revolution
The club has become a revolving door for managers to come and go in the last decade or so. Pippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Vincenzo Montella, Sinisa Mihajlovic and Gennaro Gattuso have all fallen victim to this trend. Although some of them did not do themselves any favors, they were not afforded the chance to prove themselves in the long run. The club has chosen to sack its manager at the first chance each time without ever following through with a project. The fans have become accustomed to the Year Zero where the club tends to start all over again with a new man at the bench. This vicious streak appears to have come to an end with the extension of Pioli’s contract for two more years. The Milan management has shown confidence in Pioli’s abilities and rewarded him with a contract for the impressive work he has done since taking over from Marco Giampaolo in October. The club has taken a different path this time, one that leads in the direction of some stability and continuity.
RANGNICK’S CHAOTIC PAST
Ralf Rangnick has a reputation of somewhat being an enigma with an element of unpredictability about him. He has precise methods of working and needs full backing from the board to bring his A-game. He has a history of walking away if he feels a lack of confidence from the club as was evident when the German resigned from his job at Hoffenhiem in 2011 due to differences with the board. He did so again later that same year when in charge of Schalke, only this time citing exhaustion as the reason behind it. The man is no doubt meticulous in his approach and has had huge success at RB Leipzig but there are concerns regarding his personality. There is a chance he could walk away again if things didn’t go his way, not to mention he would be a total stranger to Italian football having never worked outside of Germany. All these factors would have come into play when deciding to opt out of the negotiations with Rangnick. The management felt Pioli would provide more guarantees and thus decided to stick with him by handing him a well deserved contract until 2022.
Taking above factors into consideration, one could certainly understand the decision made by Milan management. Getting on the Rangnick boat would be a great risk and Milan after all these tough years cannot afford to waste any more. The club must make a swift return to its spiritual home, the Champions League. That would elevate their status amongst one of the big boys again while generating much needed revenue at the same time. There was an air of uncertainty around the Rangnick deal from the early stages and the reports were always conflicted as to whether he would arrive at the club or not. The Italian media was quite confident about the agreement between Rangnick and Milan while the German media consistently denied the presence of any such agreement. The capacity in which he would arrive was also not certain. There were so many twists and turns during the whole negotiations that the alarm bells were always there. The excessive demands, lack of experience outside Bundesliga, and the impressive turnaround in results the team showed post lockdown meant it was always going to be difficult replacing Pioli and hence it made sense for both parties to continue together on this upward trajectory.